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Poster: light into ashes Date: May 10, 2011 2:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: a digression

Yes, the social/cultural aspects of the Dead have always captured more attention than their music did!

And OK, maybe Dead studies are out of "infancy"... I do feel they're kind of at a turning-point, now that the Dead are more 'academically' accepted, now that there's a huge streaming archive that's been available for a few years for people to absorb (along with easy downloads elsewhere of every show), and now that more younger people who never saw the Dead are getting into the music. So I think we'll come to see a broader perspective on the Dead that previously only fanatic collectors could have.

Of course the listening does take time - there are enough shows for a lifetime! And I do know it can be hard to really enter the 'discussion' when you've heard only X many shows and everyone else seems to have heard hundreds... (And the number of people who really want to analyze the music is pretty minute, anyway. Deadheads are generally content to just listen & bicker!)
Fortunately, Dead music is quite addictive for many, so the listening hours aren't that much of a challenge!

Even so, I still feel that writing on the band is currently lagging. You'd think there would be more Dead-review blogs (or books) out there than there are. (Though there are probably many I haven't seen!)
I had hoped that my posts would inspire future writers - that was kind of the point - but when I started, I certainly wasn't inspired by other bloggers, since I wasn't aware of any who were doing what I wanted to read. (There were isolated posts on this forum that were really in-depth & illuminating, but few & far between.) Eventually I felt that I would have to write out these basic 'guide'-type posts myself, if no one else would, despite feeling woefully unqualified.

Coincidentally, I will soon be finishing my own PITB essay - although it won't be as detailed as yours sounds, and as usual will be much briefer than I'd like. (I realized early on I couldn't hope to describe the music!)
I would guess you've also experienced that a musical jam can change dramatically from one listening to another, so that each time you hear it is like hearing a different piece, or new things emerge that you hadn't noticed, since your focus keeps changing. Trying to pin a jam in words is not too easy....

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Poster: bkidwell Date: May 10, 2011 2:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: a digression

I suspect there won't be too much overlap between our mini-essays on PITB - you usually keep a close focus on the band's peak years, and the story about the Playin' I am trying to tell is about how the mood and musical materials of the jam evolved over its full lifetime, with special emphasis on the later years. I have certainly listened to many of the peak versions from the glory years, with 10/18/72, 11/18/72, 10/21/73 and several other late 73 sets, 5/21/74 being some of the performances I'd guess you will mention in a survey of historically important versions for various reasons. A lot of what I know nowdays, I know from lurking and searching these forums for old threads about "best versions" and listening to everyone's recommendations, along with consulting the classics like Deadbase 8 Feedback survey and show reviews from the Taper's compendium.

There's a cliche old quote "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" which is funny and dramatizes the challenge. My absolute favorite writer about music is Donald Francis Tovey, who wrote a lot of essays about the masterworks of European music which combine a description of the musical materials, their development, the tonal architecture, and principles of aesthetics.

I'd also like to say that I am a hopefully well-trained musician who is consistently impressed by your writing about the music, the sharpness of your perception and accuracy of making connections in what you hear, so I encourage you to write what you hear, even if you aren't expressing it in the technical vocabulary of music theory.

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Poster: ducats Date: May 10, 2011 5:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: a digression

safe to say my posts don't go under the "illuminating" category?